From the Field: Understanding and Reducing Diagnostic Error

In partnership with Medscape, the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM) has developed a free, online learning module that provides an overview of diagnostic error and how to address it. The module, “Understanding and Reducing Diagnostic Error,” covers what we know about the incidence of diagnostic error in practice today, focusing on how these errors arise from the complexity of the diagnostic process and the shortcomings in our systems and clinical reasoning, as well as the steps clinicians and patients can take to reduce the chances of error. This module is presented by Mark Graber, MD, FACP, President Emeritus and co-founder of SIDM, and can be accessed on the Medscape website.

“Diagnostic errors are common—they happen in every healthcare setting and may arise from the complexity of the diagnostic process and shortcomings in clinical reasoning and our healthcare systems,” says Dr. Graber. “We've learned a great deal about diagnostic error from studying malpractice cases, including that many of these errors are preventable.”

Dr. Graber uses the real-life example of Rory Staunton, a 12-year-old boy whose symptoms of streptococcal sepsis caused by a scrape were missed until it was too late, to illustrate the areas in the diagnostic process that need work and how the health system failed Rory. The module also cites the 2015 National Academy of Medicine landmark report “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care” and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and CRICO 2019 study of malpractice cases published in the peer-reviewed journal Diagnosis as evidence that diagnostic error is both a big problem in health care and largely preventable.

The course is appropriate for students, trainees, and clinicians in every specialty, and provides a great opportunity to earn CME/ABIM MOC/CE credit through September 23, 2020. Physicians who complete this module will earn up to 0.50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits and may qualify for 0.50 MOC points in the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. Nurses – RNs and APNs – may earn 0.50 contact hours of continuing nursing education. All others will receive a Letter of Completion that the activity was certified for 0.50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits.

Any questions or comments about the module can be directed to Dr. Graber at